U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has charged three Swiss bankers with hiding over $1.2 billion in taxable assets from the IRS this afternoon, according to various media reports.
That’s bad enough, as going up against Preet is pretty scary for Wall Streeters.
The three bankers—Michael Berlinka, Urs Frei and Roger Keller—worked Swiss bank Wegelin & Co., Bloomberg reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.
The bankers could face up to five years in prison if convicted, but that (and Preet) aren’t the only things looming in their future—the case will be overseen by Judge Jed Rakoff in U.S. District Court, according to the Huffington Post. Yes, that Judge Rakoff, who turned down the ongoing Citigroup-SEC settlement and rejected a settlement during the Bank of America takeover of Merrill Lynch in 2009. These guys will have some explaining to do.
That said, this isn’t the first time that Wegelin has made headlines for tax-related problems—in 2010, a director at the firm was arrested by the FBI for tax-evasion, Bloomberg reported. It is not clear if the two stories are related.
This is also not the first time that a Swiss entity has been connected to tax evasion. UBS was infamously fined $780 million in 2009 for claims that its wealth management arm had helped its clients avoid paying taxes.